When Greyson and Harrison Kennedy were freshmen, Bulloch Academy track coach Ronnie Hodges knew he had something special. The twins had endurance and ability; it was just a matter of what event would suit them best.
“I saw Harrison run a 60-second 400-meter dash after football practice, and I was pretty sure that was his event, even though he wasn’t built for it,” Hodges said. “With Greyson, he could run the 400 and the 800, but it seemed his specialty was more the 800.”
Both Kennedys were on the mile relay team, and Hodges noted that most 400-meter runners are usually close to 6 feet in height.
“Harrison is about six inches shorter than that,” Hodges said, “but he makes the most of his strides and runs full out the whole way. Greyson had the build for the 800 being lean, and height and stride aren’t exactly as important.”
Greyson qualified for state his freshman year and both brothers started off their sophomore track seasons on fire. Both were undefeated during the regular season. By the region meet, Harrison’s time was improving, but Greyson’s time started to decrease a bit as he finished as region runner-up.
“Greyson kept having nagging injuries,” Hodges said. “He was putting in the work but was complaining about his leg and hip hurting, and the trainers were having a tough time figuring out what was wrong with him.”
X-rays and scans were done on Greyson, and nothing was found. He and Harrison both qualified for the state. Greyson had a decent showing at the state meet, but what he didn’t know was when he walked off the track, it would be the last time he would ever run again.
Shortly after the state meet Greyson was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in his left leg.
“He was devastated when the doctors told him he would likely never run track or play football again,” said Everett Kennedy, the boys’ father. “I just prayed to God that he would spare his life or not lose a limb.”
Greyson immediately started a long series of chemotherapy, followed by a surgery to replace a section of his bone and hip socket.
Seeing Greyson going through what he was having to endure, Harrison decided to put even more time into training. His goal was to go undefeated and to win the state title.
“It was hard seeing my brother go through all the pain and treatment he had to go through,” said Harrison. “I knew how much he wanted to be out there competing, so I decided I would have to put in the work for the both of us.”
Said Hodges, “You could really see Harrison put it in another gear when Greyson got sick. He was always a hard worker, but he put in even more work and his time continued to drop.”
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic shut the track season down quickly in 2020 and Harrison’s goal had to be put on hold until this year.
Harrison went through the 2021 season undefeated and won the region meet. That set up a chance to fulfill his quest last weekend at the state meet at Locust Grove. Prior to the race, the two brothers went out onto the track and exchanged a hug before Greyson held the blocks for him to start the race.
“The way he supported me throughout the season was special,” Harrison said. “It was so important to me to have him there holding the blocks in the last two meets. I knew he was behind me, and I wasn’t going to let him down.”
Not only did Harrison go on to win the state title, his time of 50.09 second was .02 of second away from the Bulloch Academy school record.
“To be able to be out there with him meant a lot to me,” said Greyson. “I would have loved to be able to run with him, but him trying to make me proud by accomplishing his goal was very special.”
As for Harrison and Greyson’s dad Everett Kennedy. the 2021 state meet is something he will never forget for many reasons.
“I will never forget that special moment between my sons,” said Kennedy.
When the gun fired, the boys’ dad said, Harrison took off. He passed the rest of the pack and never lost the lead.
Alongside Greyson cheering him on was their sister Alexandra, who placed third in the pole vault in the state meet.
“Afterward, all of them hugging was one of the most gratifying moments I've ever experienced in my life,” Harrison Kennedy said. “All the glory to God.”
Greyson’s surgery proved to be a success and so far, all his scans have been cancer-free. Greyson is planning on attending Georgia Southern this fall, while Harrison will be heading to the University of Georgia.